How quickly and efficiently development teams can provide new, high-quality applications often determines the success or failure of companies today. DevOps aims to improve collaboration and communication between developers, system administrators, testers and other participants in the software development process. It also aims to remove barriers and enable seamless integration and collaboration across the entire lifecycle of an application.
What sounds promising in theory is often difficult to implement in everyday work. For example, IT teams tend to mix software with their own scripts and applications, making the tech stack a jumble of discrete components rather than a dedicated DevOps tool suite. This increases complexity, tying up valuable development capacities and ultimately holding up the development of new products and applications.
DevOps promises faster development and easier maintenance. In an ideal world, this would be true 100% of the time, but there are four real-world challenges DevOps teams must contend with daily, including:
- A multitude of tools makes onboarding difficult. Typically, DevOps teams use between 10 to 15 tools to support their work processes and manage their applications. However, using multiple tools can be extremely challenging, especially when it comes to onboarding new team members because each tool has its own requirements and procedures for setting up credentials and access rights. This means that each new team member may need multiple onboarding procedures to ensure they have access to all the tools they need. This process takes time and effort because administrators must create credentials for each tool and ensure the correct access rights are granted. In addition, there may be a need to train new team members to ensure they are able to use the tools This takes both time and valuable resources.
- Loss of productivity. Another problem arises when an application is not integrated, – either because it is not possible or simply because there is not enough time. IT teams then must manually update each application. For example, when a pull request is completed and closed, it needs to be updated in the project management application and then manually recorded in a separate tracking application. All of this takes time, not only the time it takes to complete the action, but the time lost due to a decrease in productivity and a loss of productivity when switching between different applications. It also becomes problematic if one of these measures is overlooked, leading to further complications.
- Increased maintenance effort. Each tool has its own maintenance requirements, including application and required security updates. This, in turn, brings with it the risk of bugs and incompatibilities in the code. While updating them doesn’t take long, maintenance and testing does take time and resources. This contradicts the very purpose of DevOps, which is to eliminate inefficiencies.
- Data protection and compliance. A technology stack out of control comes with its own set of problems. Development teams need to ensure that applications are resilient to cyberattacks, data is fully protected and easily traceable, and that all of the state, federal, and global laws and regulations are in compliance. It can’t be overstated about how important compliance is. The massive $1.3 billion fine levied on Meta in May 2023 for mishandling EU data shows just how serious GDPR regulators are about protecting consumer data. It’s not easy for companies to manage applications on a global scale — especially when many people work together from across the world. Without the right controls, data can go places where it shouldn’t, leading to regulatory violations and non-compliance. Data governance is everyone’s responsibility, but it becomes extremely difficult to control and understand data flows when the DevOps team is global.
The answer to many of these DevOps challenges is a cultural shift. That said, the technology required to support this shift must be evaluated regularly to ensure it is “fit for purpose” and doesn’t create new challenges that further burden the development team. The purpose of DevOps is to speed up development and deployment, however, too many applications can make life difficult for IT teams. Centralized platforms for managing websites and apps can enable DevOps teams to work more efficiently, reduce onboarding times and improve collaboration. This approach also enables new employees to familiarize themselves with tools and processes more quickly and in the end, be more productive contributors to projects.